Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

Meeting of the Director-General with 
the Core Leadership, Senior Staff (D1 and above) and FAORs

15 January 2021

Remarks of the Director-General

As prepared


1. I hope you all had restful holidays, being energized and ready for New journey in 2021!

2. This is the fourth meeting with Staff of the D1 category and above – and I have decided to include all our FAORs across the world today. We should fit the purposes what we are doing.

3. By now, you have recognized a central characteristic of my management approach: Predictability with big mission. Let us walk the talk.

4. All the strategic decisions, transformative actions and priorities that I introduced since my arrival at FAO follow a clear, coherent and transparent philosophy of change. Please read my Manifesto which was not only words but action plans based on numerous consultation with members and experts during the Campaign if you want further understanding it.

5. This continuity leads to coherence among the different sectors and within all layers of our Organization.

6. Externally, we follow the same predictable and logical approaches:

7. Our work is guided by a strategic vision that is relevant and applicable for all Members: The four betters (better production first, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life).

8. From this clarity of vision comes our strength.

9. A strength that allowed us in 2020, despite the pandemic, to introduce the most significant reform and reorganization of FAO since its creation.

10. The Regional Conferences, held in an innovative and successful manner, were an excellent example of this transformation.

11. Going forward, we will make the reform efforts deeper at headquarters and in the regions.

12. 2021 will see a continued reform in Rome and regional harvesting of its results on the ground!


13. Last Year, in January I declared 2020 the FAO Year of Efficiency. 

14. I am pleased to state that as an Organization, we have taken big steps in this direction, by breaking down silos, removing administrative layers and innovating many processes of daily activities.

15. We will continue on this path, seeking ways to achieve more tangible results and better delivery with innovation of business model which can produce more with less inputs.

16. But we will focus on another crucial ingredient to our recipe of success: effectiveness.

17. We need to ask ourselves: How effective is our crisis management? How effective are our operations, our administrative processes and ultimately, our deliverables to members and donors?

18. So 2021 will be the year of continued efficiency and increased effectiveness.

19. Transparency and accountability remain cornerstones of our work.

20. I strongly encourage all D1s and D2s plus FAORs to follow the example of the Core Leadership Team: we are applying FAO’s new approach on daily basis.

21. Share information and suggestions with colleagues and be accountable and responsible!

22. Be pro-active and dynamic, do not just wait for orders and instructions but do more informal consultations before actions!

23. Apply a holistic lens to your work!


24. 2021 is also the year of enhanced strategic thinking.

25. The development of the new Strategic Framework 2022-31 and Medium-Term Plan -Programme of Work and Budget 2022-23 is on the way to be happening! 

26. We are employing a top-down and bottom-up approach to ensure that FAO's global mandates and normative strengths are well embedded, and that we incorporate the needs coming from our Members and customers.

27. We are grounding the new strategy around FAO’s unique added value towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

28. This is particularly important, as we need to design in advance: we need to be prepared to redouble our efforts this year to get the SDGs back on track!


29. For the transformation of agri-food systems, 2021 will be a decisive year.

30. We will make use of our well-recognized role internationally: at the G20, the WEF and other fora.

31. We will take advantage of the momentum galvanized by the UN Food Systems Summit, the Pre-Summit, and FAO’s Youth World Food Forum that will coincide with it.

32. The Forum will be dedicated to the future of our agri-food systems, bringing together major youth groups, top influencers, companies, startups, academic institutions, civil society organizations, governments, media, the general public to drive awareness, engagement, and resources.

33. It is with fresh ideas and dynamic spirit that we will pursue this major goal for FAO: Leading global efforts towards the transformation of agri-food systems!

34. This is where our FAORs have three essential activities to focus on:

35. Reviewing an adapting national policy is the first required step

36. Talk to the Ministry of Agriculture in your country to adapt the agricultural policies.

37. Work with all relevant ministries and authorities in the country!

38.  Solid and modern policies are crucial!

39. Second Step: Offer good demo cases from comparable FAO Members.

40. Make full use of the FAO network – our combined experience and knowledge is a true gold mine – share it and use it! For example, each FAOR recommend at least one fish recipe from your host country for OCC and NFI before COFI, February 1.

41. See how countries in similar agri-zoning situations managed certain challenges. Learn and transmit the knowledge!

42. This leads to capacity building: FAO-internal at first and for our Members after that.

43. The third step is to build a platform for the country to attract investment.

44. To start, the platform should focus on one commodity that has comparative advantages or particular relevance abroad.

45. The FAOR will help the country to raise public awareness and have the product internationally recognized.

46. Headquarters will provide necessary support for these activities and work together with the FAORs.

47. Our Regional Offices will build similar platforms for specific topics of relevance, where their region can lead the way.

48. This is how we will create real cross-continent collaboration. First, all FAORs should redouble their efforts to promote country’s best practice with experiences and share it with others on SDG 1 and SDG2. OCC under guidance of Chief economist will release a series of reports on these, three countries a week since February on front page of FAO web.

49. Our office in Bangkok, for example, will focus on digital aspects, be it in food and agriculture or within our efforts of establishing digital villages.

50. The Bangkok office will also create a platform for aquaculture, given the region’s vast experience in that area.

51. Our Santiago Office, for instance, will create a platform to share the continent’s knowledge on best practices on family farmers related to agricultural production, sustainable farming and international trade.

52. Africa region are more focusing on sharing experience of common agricultural policies. European and central Asian region maybe are more on green agricultural development. RNE for north African and near east maybe are more on water scarcity issues.

53. Clearly, these platforms will be open for FAORs from other regions to participate – we want the exchange and dialogue to be dynamic and global!

54. Ultimately, we will be in a position to establish much-needed Centers of Excellency with our Members for different products and areas of work – making sure that all our experience and knowledge is at the full disposal of the world. FAO systemwide competitive competence is emerging soon.


55. For decades, FAO has been telling its Members to increase their cooperation. To learn from each other and benefit from different perspectives and experiences!

56. At the same time, there was nearly no cross-regional exchange within FAO!

57. We are changing this! We practice what we preach! We will let the true multilateral value of FAO shine!

58. Let’s make the FAO network a unique source of global knowledge, an open library with all our professional experience, and our own proper academy!

59. You can see, we are entering this historic year of 2021 with ambition and energy!

60. The goals are set and our vision is clear!

61. I count on all of you to answer the call of duty and contribute with your knowledge, ideas and experience!

62. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work efficiently and effectively!

63. Thank you.